Oktoberfest in Munich is one of the craziest festivals in the world. Tourists travel from around the world to get a taste of the famous Bavarian food and beer. From kissing babies to dancing the polka with a Bavarian man, this was just an average day at Oktoberfest.
“I… dance with… you?” said the rotund, German man.
“You what? Want to dance with me?” I asked, only mildly alarmed as I was pretty intoxicated at this point. “You’ll have to ask him.”
I pointed to my also, very drunk husband. He looked up in his drunken stupor and shrugged his shoulders, passively throwing me into this man’s arms. The old man laughed in triumph as I looked to Meg with fear.
The date was October 1st, the last weekend of the 16-day beer festival.
We headed over to Bavarian Outfitters, a local costume shop that rents these traditional outfits to travelers and locals alike for the festival. For 105 euro, we were dressed head to toe in authentic and very nice costumes.
I laced up my dirndl, Kevin buckled up his lederhosen, and we met up with our honeymoon partners-in-crime, Adam and Meg, a newlywed couple that went to college with Kevin. They too, dressed in Bavarian fashion and were just as excited as we were.
I imagined what at an average day at Oktoberfest looked like. I imagined beer, making friends and one of the greatest experiences I could encounter.
20 minutes from their flat and we would be dousing ourselves in that golden, delicious Bavarian beer. The walk felt like an eternity.
Did you know that there are actually several rides at Oktoberfest? Imagine the biggest carnival you could possible think of combined with Disneyland smells and costumes. That’s what this is. With over 80 rides at the park, how could we decide what to do first??
“Beer,” was the general consensus.
“You guys don’t want to go on any rides before we get drunk, or something?” I asked.
As we walked inside the Löwenbräu-Festhalle tent, we were greeted with bright colors, a rich smell of detergent as workers cleaned out the pint glasses and a bubbly vibe from the thousands of tourists.
The tent appeared empty at first. ‘YES’ I thought. ‘We did something right and arrived early.’ It was only after walking a quick 12 feet that we realized this empty section was the RESERVATION ONLY area and that the tables without reservations had COMPLETELY FILLED UP. Walking up and down the aisles several times led us to a table in the back corner, next to a group of very… aggressive men.
We ordered our first round to get into the spirit. It seemed like it would take us forever to get through the first liter of beer, but our bellies swelled up fast with this tasty, Bavarian beer.
I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline or perhaps we were ready to take the challenge head on, but the first half went down with great speed and we quickly got on the shmammered train.
30 minutes into our first beer, we witnessed the first beer chugging contest of the day. Two men from China were drinking their beers as quickly as possible, the entire tent cheering the gentlemen on.
As the men started to struggle halfway through their beers and slowed down, the crowds ‘booed’ and began to throw pretzels. Even after the contest was over, the older gentleman was trying hard to clear himself of any ridicule and finish the challenge. After 5 minutes of cheering, jeering and screaming, the old man finally finished his beer and held the empty glass up in victory. Several people photographed with him as their souvenir of the day.
The rest of the day was a happy, buzzy haze. We made friends with 2 guys who grew up only 30 minutes from us! My husband got drunk for the 3rd time since I’ve known him! We sang on tables, we wore expensive flower crowns and we ate gingerbread necklace cookies. Oktoberfest lived up to its name and then some.
That day, I became known as, “The Politician.”
A woman came up to me and asked me to kiss her baby. A group of Italian men asked me to take a picture with them and continued to yell “Bellisima!” for the rest of the day. An average day at Oktoberfest, indeed.
And then… there was the old Bavarian man.
Halfway through our haze (about 2 liters in), 2 drunk German men in their 50’s sat down and joined the fun. Our only shared language being a beer in hand and a clinking of glasses when the oompah band played a song we liked.
As our table continued to sing and bond, this large gentleman eventually came up to me in an attempt to ask me to dance.
At first, the language barrier was what kept me safely single, free from having to dance with this old, large stranger. But eventually, one of our new friends spoke weak German and was able to translate his request. And with little help from Kevin – my new husband – I couldn’t say no. So, naturally, we began to polka.
It was the hardest work out of my life.
This dance had me jumping, waltzing and spinning around more than any Zumba class could ever make me do. The Bavarian man swung me around like a rag doll, almost knocking several tourists down. At first people were starring, but then realized ‘Oh hey, look! They’re drunk.’
After 3 minutes of huffing, puffing and wheezing on him (and seeing my struggle), he finally let me go. I had hoped my group had just seen the dancing hell I had just endured, but they were 4 liters deep and simply asked, “Did you dance with him yet??”
Luckily, there were no pictures of my dancing with him. Though I suppose the (fuzzy) memory in my head will last me a lifetime.
About 30 minutes later, Kevin’s blood shot eyes were begging me to go. Meg and I took our beer-guzzling men home and we continued to whoop it up in the bars of Munich. We did return the next day, but with the hangover of a thousand volts and a crowd of 100,000 people, it wasn’t the same. All in all, it truly was an average day at Oktoberfest.
Munich, I promise you this: you have my heart forever.